A chaotic and dramatic Emilia Romagna Grand Prix saw Max a class above as he took his first victory of the season with a stunning drive.
After the impressive qualifying performance on Saturday, the ability to use different tyre strategies at the start disappeared as heavy rain fell in the hour before the race. Sergio and Max opted to start on intermediate tyres – as did Yuki from 20th – while Pierre chose full wets in fifth.
When the lights went out, Max made a brilliant start to get down the inside of Lewis Hamilton into the lead, with Sergio having to slot in behind the pair in third after a brief spell going three-wide. In extremely difficult conditions, Sergio then dropped to fourth on the opening lap before a Safety Car period bunched up the field.
Unfortunately, just before the race restarted, Sergio slid wide at Turn 9 behind the Safety Car and dropped behind two cars, instantly returning to his original position for the restart but receiving a time penalty for doing so.
Pierre found the full wet tyre difficult early on as the few other runners to start on it also struggled and opted to pit, but the Scuderia AlphaTauri driver stayed out for the first 15 laps before having to switch to intermediates and rejoining at the back of the field.
Yuki made good progress in the opening laps to run 14th, and had just passed Pierre for 13th before his team-mate stopped.
As the track dried out, Red Bull Racing timed the first pit stop for Max perfectly as he came in on lap 27 when under pressure from Hamilton, but duly emerged with a lead of over five seconds, and started to pull away when Hamilton went off and damaged his car, giving Max a huge lead. But a heavy crash between George Russell and Valtteri Bottas led to a red flag that erased it all on lap 34.
The drivers were allowed to change tyres again at that point – Max and Pierre going for mediums and Sergio and Yuki for softs. When the race restarted, Max recovered from a half spin to pull away from Lando Norris, while Sergio climbed back to fourth place having already taken his time penalty prior to the stoppage. Yuki was up to ninth by this stage after some good progress, but a spin at Turn 2 on the restart dropped him out of the points.
Sergio then also had a spin at Turn 6 and dropped out of the points himself, finishing in 12th, one position ahead of Yuki. Ahead of them, Pierre produced a strong recovery, and after clearing Kimi Raikkonen was putting pressure on Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo ahead but had to settle for seventh place and six points.
Up front, Max was sublime and eased away by more than 20 seconds, going on to take the 79th win for a Honda-powered car in Formula 1 and the first at Imola since Ayrton Senna’s victory in 1991.